Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Hip Hop Greats: Classic Raps [Rhino, 1990]
No "That's the Joint," because the concept behind this found collection of lost keepers isn't the greatest rap records from back in the day, it's crossover in the dark of history. The rhymes are silly with moments of unimaginable grace--from Wonder Mike's bad meal to Shirl the Pearl's soft swagger, from Kurtis Blow's universal pun to "The Message"'s message. The beats are old-school funk except when Flash gets hold of them--half "The Message"'s prophecy was in its rhythms. And the youthful positivity of both style and stylists don't stop--until white lines turn into tiny chunks of poison rock. A